Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: Jobs Markets, Mobility Tracking, Kid Care, And Stacking And Packing Pickle Bots

Greetings, salutations, hello, and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, a weekly rundown of funding rounds that may have flown under your radar.

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Before we dig into that though, some brief highlights from the Crunchbase News crew’s coverage. We covered big rounds raised by the likes of Auth0, Marqueta and Ivalua, TransferWise, Mafengwo, AlloVir, and, duh, DoorDash. Besides those though, we zoomed in on Utah’s startup scene, looked at lesser-covered ride-hailing ventures, and the universities (including public ones) which produced the most funded founders.

That’s just part of what we covered, which, in turn, is just a fraction of all that happened last week. There are plenty of companies operating outside the unicorn and public market limelight, and their stories can surface trends in the broader tech market.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a few interesting rounds from the week that was in venture-land.

Interesting Rounds From This Week

  • Have experience in, or want to break into work in the hospitality sector? Congrats, you’re in demand. I’ve worked in restaurants, and I understand why there can be high turnover. Except for at the high end, hospitality staffing roles are increasingly interchangeable, and the labor market is becoming more liquid, if still supply constrained. Instawork is one of several ventures building mobile-first marketplaces for on-demand shift work in the hospitality sector. This week, the San Francisco-based company secured $18 million in Series B funding. GV, Spark Capital, and Burst Capital led the deal. Participating investors in the round include Benchmark, SV Angel, and Y Combinator.
  • If you live in a big(-ish) North American city, chances are you’ve seen shared scooters scattered all ’round the place, right? Transportation options like taxis are easy to track, if only because cars are either on a street or in a garage, barring disaster. Scooters and bikes, though? They could be anywhere, ranging from sidewalks to inside the homes of folks who charge scooter and bike batteries as a side-hustle. As more cities take up a taxi-inspired medallion model for regulating micromobility services (all those app-unlocked scooters and bikes), municipalities need to know how many vehicles are deployed, and where they are, to ensure compliance. Founded in 2015, Portland, OR-based Ride Report operates as an intermediary data layer between cities and micromobility services like Bird, Lime, Jump, Skip, and others. The company raised $3.4 million in seed funding. Homebrew, Better Ventures, and the Urban Innovation Fund invested in the deal.
  • Venture-backed child care companies appear to be a bit of a trend. Last month in Last Week In Venture, we discussed a round raised by a company called MyVillage which offers business and growth tools to folks operating childcare services out of their own homes. This week, Boston-based CozyKin raised $6 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners; NextView Ventures and Primary Venture Partners participated in the deal. CozyKin offers “Montessori-inspired nanny sharing” for young children ranging from 0-3 years old. In a press release, the company said it will use its new capital to make key hires and form partnerships as it expands beyond Boston to NYC.
  • Emerging from stealth this week, Pickle Robots raised $3.7 million in Series A funding led by Hyperplane Venture Capital. Participating investors in the round include Third Kind Venture Capital, RRE Ventures, Data Collective (DCVC) and BoxGroup. Established in 2018 as a spin-out from MIT’s AI-focused lab CSAIL, the company is “in the box stacking business,” according to founder Andrew Meyer in an interview with Boston Inno this week. A lot of R&D resources have gone toward robots that pick items off of shelves and place them in boxes. But that’s the first in a long chain of steps, and Pickle Robots (and its backers) are betting its box-stacking bots will gain a foothold in a competitive and efficiency-driven industry like warehouse automation. Meyer said in the previously-linked interview, “Loading trucks is a back-breaking job, so we decided to teach our robots to play Tetris.”

And with that, we’re done for the week! To many of our American readers, here’s to hoping your long weekends are wonderful. See you soon!

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Ren Ran, via Unsplash.